Being a Game of Thrones character for a day // Northern Ireland
Every so often, a 'How to be a traveler', 'How not to be a tourist', 'Why you're a traveler and not a tourist' article does the rounds.
I've read *almost* all of them, and they tend to all be the same, with minor tweaks and some graphics thrown in. Even if you are not someone who's not fond of travelling, I'm pretty sure you must have come across one of these.
Why is it that even when each and every single one of us is both, that we're so conscious to identify ourselves as a traveler? Why are we so keen to keep away from 'touristy' places when they are 'touristy' for a reason?
Tourists are believed to only visit famous attractions, not pay heed to traditions and travel in groups. Travelers are glorified because they take the road less traveled, make an effort to engulf themselves in the local culture and rough it out.
Cornwall // England
I have no issues with what you identify yourself - I interchangeably call myself either, as I please.
However we need to stop singling out fellow tourists because travel should be about your:
Irrespective of whether you're taking a conventional picture at the Eiffel tower or doing acrobatics at Machu Picchu, these moments you want to experience are your interpretation of travel, and what make you happy.
You could be happy staying in a remote hut in the rice fields of Vietnam too!
Yes, these locations are swarming with visitors(for a reason) but would you keep away from these marvels because they are touristy?
In a desperate attempt not to be tourists, would you be happy missing out the Colosseum?
The Duke of York pub in Northern Ireland- the best part of town to have a beer!
Travel should first and foremost be about what you want travel to be! It isn't necessary to travel only with a backpack, or not carry selfie sticks. How else are you going to get that perfect shot?
Which stranger is going to be patient with you till you're confident about the perfect camera angle?
It is definitely not necessary to pressurize oneself, because of a notion that scorns the idea of being a tourist.
Whether you take a cruise holiday with the parents or jet off to Disneyland with the kids, it is about spending quality time with loved ones, in a group, and it is still travel. Do you think it would be a great idea to hitch-hike a ride with kids in tow? Would that make you more of a traveler?
Everyone, whether it's a weekend trip or a year-long one, is traveling in a way unique and suited to them. It does not make it any less enriching because they did not take an offbeat path.
You do not need to travel in a way you dislike!
Being a tourist at Giant's Causeway!
Have you given a thought to the following?
TOURISTS CONTRIBUTE TO THE ECONOMY
Tourists who are trying to unwind from their daily lives for a short duration are usually ones who are interested in getting away from the hustle and bustle and do not mind spending a few extra quid to check out the 'must-see' places. It is their money that's contributing to the upkeep of the local museum in town and even helping in something like La Sagrada in its completion!
That in turn contributes to the local economy and helps small businesses thrive!
THEY'RE THE ONES WHO ARE REALLY CAREFREE!
All they are concerned with is making memories, irrespective of whether they did listen to the bit of history attached to the attraction they're visiting!
They want to make sure they've visited the must-see places, ticked them off the bucket list. And while you're cringing standing on a pedestal being snobby and trying your best not to be a tourist, they're happy doing it.
Happy jumping in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath until the picture captures them with their feet above it!
Not really caring if they're missing out on quirky places because all they want to do is de-stress for a week by the sea at the same resort!
Without guilt, without stress.
THEY KNOW HOW TO MAXIMIZE VACATIONS
A quick visit to the local travel agent, for an awesome last-minute deal without the pressure of finding the best places to stay, 'hidden gems' to eat at and culturally-rich things to do!
Switching-off: they're doing it best!
Poring their noses over a guide-book, they don't need to think twice about visiting a 'recommended' Lonely Planet find, and once done, heading off to the resort for a 3 PM nap!
After all isn't travel about enrichment and relaxation?
The colorful souks of Marrakech filled with 'Tourists'
In spite of what you call yourself and what you like to do, travel is and will always will be about wanderlust. It's disheartening when people try to be something they aren't in-order not to be termed 'tourists'. If every tourist did a roundabout turn and tried to go the 'traveler-defined' route, wouldn't all places then be touristy?
Where would the travelers then go?
Unless you live in a city, you're always an outsider and hence a tourist. No amount of mingling with the locals will make you one of them, and neither will you understand the daily grind, unless you make the place home!
You can't be one without being the other - even if you've bought a way one ticket, or plan to travel for eternity!
It's about time we stopped being condescending and belittling other peoples experiences.
You are a fun loving individual (unless you're one of these) and have every right to consume travel the way you deem fit!
Travelers are coming together for a noble cause!
I am a part of Project Alpha, which is an initiative to bring travelers around the globe together to write a story about a trip that changed their lives! These stories will be compiled into a book aptly titled The Trip That Changed My Life. It will be crowdfunded on Indiegogo (the campaign ends June 17, 2016). All funds raised will benefit two charities, Unbound and Save the Children.
To learn more about the project and connect with contributors, visit The Trip That Changed My Life's Facebook page.
About the Author:
Lavina Dsouza is an Analyst/Travel Blogger who's traveling when not working, chronicling tales of her adventures on: A Capricious Compass, where she also shares detailed itineraries and thought provoking tales, seeking to entertain those around her, coaxing them at the same time to see things in a new light!
You can also follow along on Instagram for daily inspiration.